Deaths of gypsy children spark Italian political storm

Italian politicians called for an inquiry into the living conditions of gypsies in Italy after four Roma infants died in a fire on the outskirts of Livorno, central Italy.

Deaths of gypsy children spark Italian political storm
Italian politicians called for an inquiry into the living conditions of gypsies in Italy Monday after four Roma infants died in a fire on the outskirts of Livorno, central Italy.

"We need to understand why the laws are not applied, because in our country there are babies and children whose rights are neglected in the name of cultural diversity," said right-wing Forza Italia deputy Jole Santelli.

Four gypsy infants, three boys and a girl aged between four and 10 years old, were burnt to death late Friday night in a fire at a makeshift shelter under a motorway underpass near Livorno's industrial zone.

The parents of the children, two couples originally from Romania, were jailed on suspicion of non-assistance of a person in danger. A judge will rule on the case Tuesday, said Italy's ANSA news agency.

Livorno's left-wing mayor, Alessandro Cosimi, called for national talks to resolve the problem of integrating the Roma. But he warned that local authorities would need more funding if this was to be done.

The drama has reignited the debate over immigration. Between 140,000 and 160,000 gypsies currently live in Italy.

They include 60,000 gypsies recently arrived from central European countries who do not hold Italian nationality.

On Sunday, immigration minister Paolo Ferrero said the children's deaths were just the latest in a long series of such tragedies caused by the indifference of local authorities.

That drew a sharp response from the mayors of several large cities including Venice and Ancona. Regardless of their political allegiance, they were united in pointing out that the policy and funding for immigration policy was the central government's responsibility.

There are about 500 makeshift Roma encampments scattered across Italy and they are the worst in Europe, says Opera Nomadi, a group that acts as mediators between the Roma and the authorities.

Massimo Converso, the group's president, called for an urgent meeting with interior minister Giuliano Amato to find concrete solutions to the problem.

Italy is one of 14 countries listed by the European Commission as practising discrimination against the Roma community on the basis of their race or their ethnic background.

The commission has called on all 14 countries cited to answer the charge, before August 27, or face financial penalties.

AFP
Last Mod: 15 Ağustos 2007, 00:47
Add Comment